– 24 –


At least that’s what seemed to have happened. But it couldn’t have happened that way. It couldn’t. These things just didn’t happen, they were too stereotypically racist. Jamaicans just did not... Mackenzie’s thoughts drifted off.

Then they returned: Surely she didn’t... But she couldn’t have. She was a tough woman, a Canadian journalist. She’d never, not in a thousand years... And her thoughts drifted off again.

That afternoon family physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists and counsellors all across Toronto took in emergency appointments to hear similar worries from similar women. The therapists listened, comforted and prescribed as they painstakingly re-built their patients’ normally enormous self-esteem.

There there. There there, the caregivers kept saying. You couldn’t have done that. Not you. Surely not you. You couldn’t have acted that way. Not you. Surely not you. It was a daydream. An hallucination maybe, although that’s not to say there’s anything the least bit wrong with your sanity, far from it. The whole thing was caused by stress, the stress of being in the same room as Smith, the exponent of absolute evil. No wonder you’re upset. It’s natural for good people to get upset about Smith. And you’re a good person.

Mackenzie had a session herself but her sedative was a mild one so she’d be fully alert by evening. Then she headed straight to the day spa, relieved to know that events didn’t unfold the way she had almost thought they did. Or at least she thought events didn’t unfold the way she had almost thought they did. She sure hoped so, anyway.

Many others felt the same way — knowing, or at least thinking they knew, or maybe hoping they knew, or hoping they thought they knew that events didn’t unfold the way they had almost thought they did.

Mackenzie’s phone kept ringing as women continually called each other for reassurance, more reassurance and further reassurance. It just didn’t happen like that and they just didn’t respond like that, everyone told everyone else to everyone else’s agreement. Then they phoned still others to hear still more reassurance.

But if final word would come from anyone, it was the men at the CJC. No one else spoke with such authority on any subject under the sun. Mackenzie’s three o’clock appointment drew near, a chance to sit down and talk to Mr. Caplan.

In the meantime, she hoped the whirlpool would soothe her sore knees.

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